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Africa

Mauritius opposition wins surprise landslide victory

Final results from elections on the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius have shown a landslide victory for the center-right opposition coalition. Voters rejected government plans to expand presidential powers.

Final results released on Friday showed an opposition coalition led by ex-President Anerood Jugnauth (seen C. above) winning Mauritius' parliamentary elections by a large margin.

Jugnauth's center-right Alliance Lepep snatched 47 of the 62 seats in parliament, leaving Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam's coalition to lick its wounds with just 13.

The result comes as a surprise after Ramgoolam's coalition, consisting of his Labour Party and the Militant Mauritian Movement of ex-prime minister Paul Berenger, entered Wednesday's poll as the clear favorite.

The vote was seen as a referendum on constitutional reform, with a majority of voters apparently balking at a recent government proposal to boost presidential powers by holding direct elections for the post. Mauritius' president, a largely ceremonial position, is currently elected by parliament.

The Alliance Lepep had vigorously campaigned against the proposal.

The 84-year-old Jugnauth, who was president of Mauritius from 2003 to 2012 as well as prime minister from 1982-1995 and 2000-2003, has promised to boost the economy, based largely on tourism, textiles, sugar and financial services.

Mauritius is one of the richest nations in Africa, with a per capita gross domestic product of $9,200 (7,200 euros) and a population of 1.3 million people.

It has had only four prime ministers in its history after being led to independence from Britain in 1968 by the father of the outgoing prime minister, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, who was the first person in the country to hold the post.

tj/es (AFP, dpa)